How Do You Prove Past and Future Medical Costs in an Injury Claim?
If you have been injured in an accident in Illinois
and another party is at fault, you are entitled to damages
, which may include your medical expenses. Past medical expenses usually present a relatively simple issue, as they entail money you already have spent (or debts you have incurred) due to medical care as a result of the injuries you suffered in the accident. However, many accidents result in injuries that will require long-term care—or at least care that extends beyond the conclusion of a civil action to recover damages. In that case, you will have to prove both past and future medical expenses, which can be two very different propositions.
Accidents That Cause Severe Injuries
Any personal injury claim associated with negligence can result in receiving compensation for the damages associated with your injuries. Personal injury claims can include:
There are many different types of personal injury incidents that can lead to serious injuries for the unfortunate victim. Even a seemingly minor injury may cause large medical bills and other significant costs.
Medical bills caused by negligence can often be more expensive than most people think and can add up very fast. A long term, severe injury could rack up even bigger bills and significant costs
, like missed time from work.
Injuries that Cause High Medical Bills
Traumatic Brain Injury
While traumatic brain injuries
can range from mild to severe–causing anything from a concussion to a coma to brain death–the more severe the injury is, the higher the medical bills are likely to be. With a mild concussion, you may only end up with minor medical bills, like an ambulance ride, hospital stay, and a few follow up appointments. Still, this isn't cheap. However, a more serious brain injury may require costly surgery, long-term therapy, or even life support, which can all lead to medical bills in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars..
Spinal Cord Injury
The treatment for a spinal cord injury
can be very expensive, depending on the severity of the damage. You may just need a brace, a wheelchair, or crutches to get around, or you may have to undergo surgery
or receive expensive injections. Spinal cord injuries also often require physical therapy, as you may need to relearn how to walk after your accident occured. Long-term physical therapy can be expensive, on top of surgeries and other treatments.
Broken Bones that Require Surgery
Most often, any injury that requires surgery is more expensive than one that does not. For example, to fix a broken bone
, usually a cast is used to set the bone in place and allow it to heal properly. However, sometimes surgery is required to ensure that the bone is properly set up to heal in the correct position. This surgery, and sometimes even the cost of physical therapy, can rack up quite a bill.
Internal injuries can be expensive because sometimes it takes a little while to determine where the problem is originating. You may need to have x-rays, CT scans or other costly exams, all before you undergo surgery to repair the damage. If there are any complications during your surgery, your costs will only increase from there
Recovering Past Medical Bills
When you are injured in an accident through the fault of another person, you are entitled to receive compensation for the medical expenses you incur because of the injuries you suffered in that accident, among many other losses. Proving past medical expenses is a relatively straightforward process, as noted. You will need to provide documentation for expenses such as:
- Doctor bills
- Hospital bills
- Emergency room treatment bills
- Ambulance services
- Nursing services
- Pharmaceutical receipts
- Physical therapy bills
You must demonstrate that the bills were for medical services necessary to treat the specific injuries you suffered in your accident. In general, though, the proof consists of documentation of your medical costs.
Future Medical Costs Require Different Proof Than Past Costs
Future medical costs obviously haven’t happened yet, and cannot be documented by medical bills that already have been (or still must be) paid. Rather, future medical costs are expenses for medical care that will be incurred due to treatment of accident-related injuries that will occur after litigation is resolved.
Typically, future medical costs are an issue with serious injuries or long-term, chronic conditions that result from the injuries suffered in the accident. You can recover for future medical expenses if you prove that you will need continued medical care because of the injury suffered in the accident, based on the estimated cost of that care.
To prove future medical costs usually requires expert medical testimony. Physicians and other healthcare providers would have to testify about the medical care you will require in the future as a result of your injuries. The proof must include enough detail to make it possible to ascertain roughly what that future care will cost.
Medical Costs Can Vary from Case to Case
Just as no two injuries are the same, medical bills that result from an accident will never be exactly the same for different accident victims. Some people who sustain accidental injuries will only require one or two trips to a doctor, while others may have extended hospital stays with ongoing treatment. No matter how much your bills may be, you still deserve to be compensated for them by a liable party. The method of obtaining compensation, however, may vary depending on how much medical debt you have incurred.
If you go to your usual doctor, you may only incur a couple hundred dollars in medical expenses depending on the tests and treatment that you need. Of course, costs go up if you need medication, medical equipment, or physical therapy. Your bills will be higher if you needed to seek treatment in an emergency department, and even more, if you took a ride in an ambulance.
If you were admitted to the hospital for even one night, your costs likely immediately skyrocketed into the thousands of dollars. One report
shows the following average cost per day at a hospital in Illinois:
- Government-backed facility: $3,128
- For-profit facility: $1,567
- Non-profit facility: $2,373
The above numbers are from 2014 (the most recent ones available), so it is likely the cost has risen even higher. If someone was injured and stayed in a state or local hospital for seven days, he likely will owe more than $20,000. The costs of hospital treatment are higher if the injuries are particularly serious and require time spent in the intensive care unit (ICU) or a burn treatment unit.
In addition, the costs of surgical procedures have increased in recent years. For example, some back surgeries can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000, depending on the injury. There are often additional costs for surgical recovery, such as a hospital stays, medical equipment, rehabilitative therapy, or even home health assistance.
Recovering for Medical Costs
The approach to recovering medical expenses and other injury-related losses can vary depending on the nature and amount of your losses. For example, if you have a few medical bills and missed a few days of work (and thus lost income), our attorneys may be able to seek compensation for your expenses and losses through an insurance claim against the policy of the liable party. We can often obtain a favorable settlement quickly from an insurance company when the losses are relatively straightforward.
Not all personal injury claims, however, can be resolved through the insurance process. If your losses exceed the policy limits, for example, it would be necessary to file a personal injury claim against the liable party. If your losses include more complex damages such as pain and suffering, permanent disability, or similar intangibles, a court claim may also be the best way to obtain the full compensation you deserve.
Will the Severity of my Injury Affect my Settlement?
There are many different factors that affect your personal injury settlement. The amount you receive will be affected by:
- the amount of damages you accrued (both economic and non-economic)
- the change in your quality of life before and after the accident
- the severity of your injuries
- and your prognosis (how likely you are to fully recover and how long it will take).
The severity of your injuries plays a huge part in your settlement value for a variety of reasons. Your economic damages and your non-economic damages
are often higher with more serious injuries. This is because you will likely have higher medical bills and more pain and suffering when your injuries are severe. You may also have more lost wages because of the increased recovery time associated with a severe injury.
In order to receive compensation for your damages, you must be able to prove your medical bills and other costs were caused by the incident in question. This proof will come from the documentation, medical bills, and evidence that your attorney collects in order to prove to the insurance companies the amount of damages you have accrued.
So yes, the severity of your injury will affect the amount you receive as a settlement. You may also receive a higher settlement depending on how much pain and suffering you experienced. If you lived an active lifestyle before your accident and now have injuries with a long recovery time or a disability, you could receive a higher settlement. Additionally, if you will no longer be able to pick up your grandchild, or even something extremely detrimental like not being able to feed yourself, the pain and suffering portion of your settlement is likely to be higher.
Either way, your attorney will help you to navigate this process so that you can receive the settlement that you deserve for your damages.
When should I Accept a Settlement?
Whether or not, or when, you accept a settlement is completely up to you, but your attorney will help you make the right decision. Choosing when to settle a personal injury claim can be a big decision, but your attorney will be there to guide you.
In many circumstances, and with a talented attorney, you can get a settlement that covers all of your damages so that you can move on with your life without any debt and hopefully healthy and fully recovered. Further, a plaintiff usually walks away from a settlement with money in their pocket for pain and suffering, and other damages.
Sometimes, a settlement may not seem fair or like you are being low-balled when you feel like you deserve much more. When it comes to deciding whether to risk going to trial, the main factor you should consider is your chances of winning more money than the settlement offer in court. If you have a high chance of winning a greater amount, settling may not be the right move for you. If you have a low chance of winning more money, you may want to take the settlement offer so you don’t take a financial hit or lose out on the money altogether.
Again, having an experienced attorney makes all the difference in making the right decision here.
Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys to Discuss a Possible Claim Today
If you have been involved in an accident that resulted in injuries, your first step should be to consult an attorney to determine what your rights are under the circumstances of your accident. You may have the right to compensation for past and future medical costs, as well as other losses.
The attorneys of Abels & Annes can assist in protecting your rights when you are involved in an accident resulting in injuries and medical bills, both past and future. You can reach our office at (312) 924-7575
or through our website